Subic Bay Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Apart from being a world-class economic hub, Subic Bay is blessed with a magnificent bay and tranquil forests, making it an ideal playground for those who crave for both nature and adventure.
Why go to Subic Bay
Straddling the bay in the west and the mountains in the east, Subic Bay assures endless opportunities for fun and thrilling explorations.
Ecotourism is a big thing here and you'll get to enjoy the rich local flora and fauna. To begin with, you can sign up for some hard-core boot camp where you can learn survival skills from the same Aetas who trained the American soldiers back when it was a military base.
Perhaps you wanna be like the modern Tarzan and swing from tree to tree, Tree Top adventure can arrange that for you.
Or saddle up and pretend you are the ranch owner's family while galloping around El Kabayo Stable on a thoroughbred.
If you prefer something more laid back but still close to nature, Subic Bay has three forest trails to choose from.
You want an up close and personal encounter with the tigers and the sea lions, don’t you? Zoobic Safari and Ocean Adventure will make sure it happens.
You can also play golf, go-kart, or maybe cruise with the Subic Bay Yacht Club. Go lounge in some beach resorts, dive, or indulge in water sports activities like parasailing or banana boat. After all, what's a visit to Subic Bay without some time out in the sun, right? Whatever your type of adventure is, we're sure you won't be leaving disappointed.
When to go to Subic Bay
Due to its geographical location, Subic Bay is naturally protected from the onslaught of typhoons. This means anytime is the best time to go there. However, since most of the activities are outdoor, it would be best to visit during the dry season from November to May. Best to avoid holidays like Holy Week though as it's guaranteed to be packed.
Where to stay in Subic Bay
Sadly for backpackers, most hotels in Subic Bay are geared more towards families and group travellers.
This means it will be a challenge to find dirt cheap accommodations or decent dormitory type hostels. The Cabin (Bldg. 204 Schley Road CBD) offers bunk bed for PHP650 though so if you are adamant on getting the cheapest possible option and don't mind sharing spaces, then make sure to book directly with them and well in advance.
As Subic Bay is definitely a family friendly destination, you can find plenty of hotels offering family rooms that can accommodate for up to 4 people for only PHP1800 to PHP3000 so budget wise, it is not that bad if you're traveling in a group.
There are also numerous hotels within the free port zone with excellent access to many shops and restaurants.
If you wish to be in the heart of the city, you can select a hotel right in the centre of Olongapo like in Barangay East Bajac-Bajac. If you're on a budget, you can also look for inns a little bit farther away in Barangay Matain or Barrio Barretto. The latter is a host to many girly bars though so avoid if traveling with kids or family.
Where to eat in Subic Bay
Subic Bay continues to develop as a premier tourist destination, so does the restaurant scene in and around the area. From cutesy cafes to fast food chains to casual and fine dining restaurants, you're bound to find something that will keep you coming back for more.
Subic Bay's history as a former American naval base and now as a world-class economic engine has shaped its dining culture. You will find a mishmash of international cuisines from Indian to Italian. Of course, there's always Filipino comfort food and Rico’s Fastfood and Restaurant (21 Corpuz St. West Tapinac, Olongapo) serves home cooked food at very affordable prices. In fact, they have an eat-all-you-can buffet for only PHP150.
If you're craving for some Japanese cuisine, Sakura (Lot 7B Rizal Hwy, SBFZ) and Chef Samurai (Raymundo St, Subic Bay Freeport Zone) come highly recommended.
Craving for some kimchi? We suggest trying MG Koreanfood Grill (Canal Road | Corner Labitan Street, SBFZ) or Gangnam Premium Korean Buffet (Harbor Point, Rizal Hwy, SBFZ).
Hankering for Indian dishes? We can swear by either Rama Mahal Bar and Restaurant (Sampson Rd, SBFZ) or Rachi Curry Corner (Space No. 240 Harbor Point Mall, CBD). These are just merely suggestions, we urge you to embark on your own culinary adventure and we're sure there's plenty more to love in Subic Bay.
How to get around Subic Bay
Getting around Subic Bay can be costly especially if you're traveling alone. Since tricycles and jeepneys are not permitted inside the bay, you will have no choice but to catch a taxi if you are commuting. We've heard of fare inflating to as much as 300% so ask your hotel's receptionist for a ballpark figure.
Attractions are quite far from each other so if you can negotiate multiple stops for a fixed rate, even better. For example, one way fare to popular attractions such Zoobic Safari, Tree Top, or Ocean Adventure is about PHP500.
Once outside the main gate though, you will find bus and jeepney terminals that can take you around CBD or residential areas. Buses and jeepneys are all colour coded according to their route. Best to check with the drivers which colour to hop on.
How to get to and from Subic Bay
Air Juan flies to Subic Bay International Airport directly from Manila Bay daily for about PHP3,000 to PHP5,300.
If coming from NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) though, Victory Liner has frequent buses to Olongapo that departs every hour starting from 4am. The nearest terminal is the one in Pasay but they do have other terminals in Caloocan, Sampaloc and Cubao. Travel time will take a minimum of 3 hours depending on traffic conditions and fare is around PHP200. There also taxis that you can hire just outside the airport but it will be a lot more expensive.
If you're coming from Clark International Airport (DMIA), it will take you about an hour to get to Subic. You can take a taxi from the airport directly to Subic or you can ride the jeepney that goes to Dau Bus terminal. From there, get on a bus bound to Olongapo for about PHP100. Travel time will depend on whether you take an express or a regular bus. The latter costs a bit less but travel time can stretch for up to 2 hours.
There are also tourist buses, Swagman Bus and Southern Cross Shuttle. The former departs daily from Swagman Hotel (411 Antonio Flores St, Ermita, Manila) and Swagman Narra (S.L. Orosa Street, Diamond Subdivision, Balibago, Angeles). The latter departs from Brass Knob Hotel (440 21st Street, Don Juico Avenue Clarkview, Angeles). Fare from Manila is PHP600 and PHP500 if coming from Angeles.
Is Subic Bay a safe place to visit?
Like anywhere else, safety is relative here. If you keep your common sense with you, you should be alright. Don't flash valuables, carry enough cash just for the day, use the safe to keep valuables. If going into girly bars, do not get involved with minors or drugs.